Remembering How to Dance

This is something that I wrote in my Fiction writing in the fall of 2009. The inspiration for this story comes from a scene that I often have imagined and, were it to be a film, I feel would be a powerful and emotional scene. You'll see if you read the story, but the scene I'm talking about is when the man first meets the woman in the field while it is raining. I feel I still have some revising to do to really make the scene fit what I see in my mind, but for now it works as a general outline.

I gently run my finger along the smooth skin of the woman’s cheek. Her skin feels so soft, so unlike anyone else’s, and I was scared I would scratch her with my rough skin. My eyes roamed over each of her features, soaking each of them in. I swore to myself that her face would be one that I remember, that even when I forgot everything else, I would still remember this much.
    The way her long eyelashes curled, and the way her pink lips even now showed hints of a smile. Her grey hair, still with a hint of auburn, framed her round face. She seemed so young lying there. Taking a deep breath, I closed my eyes.
    I was driving along a gravel road on the outskirts of town. Trees lined both sides of the road, and rays of sunlight flashed across the red hood of the truck. I was driving fast, probably faster than I should on that kind of road, but I didn’t care. Earlier that day I’d been fighting with my parents. They’d wanted me to stay home another year, working and saving money for college. At least, that’s the excuse they told me. Really, it seemed like they wanted me to stay home so they wouldn’t have to worry about finding someone to babysit my little brother. After an hour of making no progress on the argument, I stormed out of the house and got into truck. A quarter tank of gas and a few hours later and there I was.
    There happened to be a pond. There were a few scattered trees around the edges, and laying on my stomach on the grass I could look down into the clear blue water and see the fish as they swam along the bottom. Years ago when my brother and I would come out here I’d try to catch the fish with my bare hands. He’d laugh each time I’d startle a fish and it’d splash water in my face as it made its escape.
    This day I needed the peace that I often gained from sitting out here on my own. I opened the truck door and walked the edge of the pond, kicking the occasional stone into the calm water and watching as fish darted away from the disturbance. I soon reached my favorite part of the pond. There was a tree that was bigger than any other tree by the pond, its limbs stretching far over the pond and one of its huge round roots had grown out of the ground and extended a ways over the water before plunging into the depths. I had found a curve of the root that was just right for laying upon and forgetting about the one’s troubles.
    I climbed down the root and curled up in my special spot. Now that I was laying still I could almost feel the root rocking as the water pushed against it. I looked up at the tree and caught glimpses of the sun through its branches. I closed my eyes and the occasional ray of sunlight would illuminate my eyelids. I laid my arm across my face and, either because of the water’s rocking or my exhaustion from arguing with my parents, I was asleep within minutes.
    It wasn’t until I was shivering from cold that I realized it had begun to rain. I opened my eyes to see that the bright sun I had fallen asleep too had been smothered by dark storm clouds. The surface of the water was being constantly shattered by the large drops of rain. As I was thinking about how late it must be there was a bright flash of lightning. Partially blinded, I reached with my hands towards the edges of the root to guide myself back towards the edge of the pond. Moments later, a loud clap of thunder sounded, startling me as I attempted to jump to the ground.
    “Ah, sh-i-i,” I shouted as I lost my balance and fell over into the pond water, the last of my words drowned out by the sudden gush of water flooding my mouth. I sat up in the shallow water, my back hurting from the rocks that had dug in, coughing and sputtering. I climbed out and ran back towards my truck, feeling the water squishing in between my toes within my boots. This experience with the rain was making me regret my decision to come out here.
    I made it to the door of my truck and I pulled on the door handle. The door didn’t budge. I tried again, then pressed my face to the glass to look inside. There, just by the wheel, I could see the glint of my keys, still dangling from the ignition.
    “Great, just great,” I said to myself. I had no idea how I was going to get into my truck now. There was no way I was going to be able to get back home to have my parents help me, and there was no way I would accept their help anyways. The moment they discovered I’d left my keys in the truck they’d rant about how irresponsible I was and add that to the list of reasons why I shouldn’t leave home.
    Well, that wasn’t going to happen. I couldn’t think of any houses close by, so I started thinking of ways to get into the truck on my own.
    I was rolling a rock in my hand, thinking of how I could explain to my parents a shattered window, when I first heard it. I turned away from the truck and cocked my head to the side. There it was again. Laughter, and what sounds like singing, coming from past the trees.
    Looking back at my truck and still holding the rock, I seriously thought about whether or not I wanted to smash the window of my first vehicle. Glancing towards the source of the laughter, I figured I had no where I had to be anyways.
    “Stay,” I commanded my truck, placing the rock on the hood as a threat that if it did move then there would be consequences.
    I walked to the line of trees then stepped over broken branches and stray bushes as I made my way through the copse. I saw that there was a clearing on the other side and caught a glimpse of a figure. I ducked behind a bush and peeked around the corner.
    There, through the rain, I could make out the figure of a woman standing in the middle of the clearing. There was something about her that struck me fast and held my attention.
    She was the most beautiful young lady I had ever laid eyes on.
    Her long auburn hair was wet from the rain, but still was vibrant and framed her youthful face. She looked to be maybe a year or two younger than myself. She was standing there with her head leaned back, letting the rain flow down her face. She had her arms spread wide, welcoming the falling rain. She wore a blue dress that ended well above the knee. She seemed absolutely at peace with her surroundings.
    As I watched, she picked up a blue ribbon and tied her hair back from her face. She flung her long wet hair back and forth and laughed as it fell heavily from side to side.
    I couldn’t stand it anymore. I had to meet this girl, I had to know her name.
    I stood up from behind the bush and took a step out onto the grass. The girl turned and looked at me. She didn’t make a move, simply watched me as I walked towards her using the best manly strut I could muster. I held my head up high, attempting to exude manly pride, and because of that I didn’t notice the root that caught my foot. I tripped and flung my arms out to catch myself. I only succeeded in scraping my palm as I fell face first into a patch of mud.
    I lay there for what seemed an eternity but really must have been a few seconds. I could feel the heat rising in my face as a wave of embarrassment swept through me.
    A giggle sounded above me and I raised my eyes to see the young woman kneeling down just a foot away, her head turned to the side as she took stock of my condition. Her lips were upturned in a big grin.
    “That looked like it hurt,” she said, She held out her hand. I took it and stood, wiping the mud as best I could from the front of my shirt. I turned away and scrubbed at my face, trying at the same time to clean myself and hide my embarrassment. I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned to see the girl holding the blue ribbon she had used to hold her hair back.
    “Here, let me help,” she reached for my face and pressed the ribbon to my face, rubbing away bits of dirt and grass. I froze in place. Her face was within just a few inches of mine. The entire time I stared into her eyes. They were the most striking shade of green, as if the irises of each eye were emeralds held in place in a sea of the purest white.
    Within a few minutes she had my face cleaned up. I coughed and cleared my throat. “Thank you,” I whispered, my embarrassment still making me want to crawl into a hole and never come out.


    I opened my teary eyes, looking down at the face of the woman I had loved over the years. I remembered everything now, from that first night I mer her in the rain, how we had taken a rock to my truck window and driven into town. I remembered moving away, getting married, having kids. I remembered in recent years as old age bent my back and my mind began to fail me. I looked at Leona, laying there. She was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen, and that was something I would never forget. I leaned down to whisper into her ear.
    “I love you, forever now and forever always,” I brushed my lips across her forehead and grasped her hand one last time. I stood up and rubbed away the pain in the small of my back. My eyes glazed over as I thought about what I would be having for dinner.
    My eyes were itchy and rubbed them, wiping away tears that I had no idea why they were there. I turned to look at a man in a white orderly uniform standing nearby.
    “Stewart, look here, I think I’ve got something in my eyes.”
    The orderly moved to my side. Looking from the woman in the coffin to myself. I looked down at the woman as well.
    “Look there, Steven, isn’t she just beautiful? Isn’t she?”
    The orderly looked at me, as if he wanted to say something more. He shook his head and laid a hand on my arm. “C’mon, Mr. Husemann, it’s time we left.”
    I looked once more back at the woman. She really was quite beautiful. The orderly led me through the room. People patted me on the shoulder, offering words of condolence to me.
    “Why are they feeling sorry for me?” I said.
    The orderly looked back at me, appearing sad, but he only said, “They must think you’re someone else.” We got to the entrance room and he took my jacket off of the rack by the door. He held it up for me as I slid my arms into the sleeves. He grabbed his umbrella and led me out the front doors.
    “It’s going to rain, Stanley. You see that?” I pointed up at the dark clouds filling the sky as we walked down the steps outside the building.
    The orderly grinned at me. “Yes, I believe it is. Why don’t we get you into the car so we don’t get wet.”
    “Yes, yes, sounds good,” I stepped down and felt the first raindrops fall against my face. I paused at the steps, and the orderly continued to the car. I placed a shaking hand on the railing and leaned my head back. I closed my eyes as the rain hit my face. I could remember clearly a smiling young woman with vibrant red hair and striking green eyes. My left hand in my pocket, I felt a ribbon that I always kept with me, even when I had no idea of anything else. A blue ribbon that I had kept from that fateful night so long ago. I shuffle my feet from side to side and a smile spreads across my face. I know who that woman is. She’s the one whose laughter fills my heart as I remember how to dance.

The End

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